By Arthur Miller
Presented April 20, 21, and 22, 2001
The Ray House Museum, Vinton
Director: Le Cox
Stage Manager / House Manager: Deb Vaughn
The upheaval in Salem village in 1692 is portrayed in this scene from THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller, performed at the Ray House.From left is Director Le Cox as Elizabeth Proctor, Bill Owens as Reverend Hale, Larry Adams-Bowers as John Proctor, and Ron Baldwin as Giles Corey.
In the early 1950’s, playwright Arthur Miller was subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Un-American Activities Committee chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy, in a time of hysteria when many members of the show business community were called before that committee and accused of being members of the communist party.Miller, whose plays up to that time included All My Sons as well as his most enduring work, Death of a Salesman, responded to the work of the Senate committee by writing his searing drama The Crucible, about another dark and chilling moment of hysteria from this nation’s past, the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692.The Crucible premiered in 1953.This weekend, ACT I presents a readers’ theatre version of that play, produced at the Ray House at 7:30 PM on Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, and 2:00 PM Sunday, April 22.
Although The Crucible is a fictionalized account, it is based upon the actual events of 1692 and is a fairly accurate telling of incident.Most of the characters in the play actually lived, though several are composites of actual personalities who lived in Salem at the time.
The incident begins in the spring of 1692 in the household of Reverend Samuel Parris, a widower who has served the village of Salem, Massachusetts for three years as a minister of the Puritan faith.Rev. Parris lives with his young daughter Betty, his niece Abigail Williams, and his slave Tituba, a native of Barbados.One night, Rev. Parris discovers Abigail, Tituba, and Betty, along with several other village girls, dancing in the woods as if practicing some pagan ritual.Betty becomes extremely ill afterward, and rumor has it that she was attempting to fly.The incident also included Tituba’s attempt to conjure up the dead sisters of Ruth Putnam, another one of the village girls, and it doesn’t take long for the residents of Salem to conclude that witchcraft is afoot.Reverend Hale of Beverly, an expert on witchcraft, is sent for, and before long a major tribunal is set up in Salem, led by Deputy Governor Danforth.The group of young girls who were at first at the mercy of the authorities soon find themselves holding all the trump cards, and able to accuse whom they like and have those accusations taken with deadly seriousness.Those convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to hang, but their lives will be spared if they make a full confession.Some, like Tituba, are quick to confess.But others will die before admitting to a false conviction.
Not all the citizens of Salem are convinced that the incident in the woods had anything to do with witchcraft.A young farmer, John Proctor, the elderly Rebecca and Francis Nurse, and the feisty old Giles Corey, struggle to bring reason to the village before it is too late.John Proctor, however, shares a dark secret with Abigail Williams.He and Abigail, formerly a servant in the Proctor household, carried on a brief affair.When Abigail accuses Proctor’s wife Elizabeth of witchcraft, Proctor knows all too well what Abigail’s true motive is.Even Reverend Hale realizes that things have gotten out of hand and tries to bring reason to the situation.Ultimately, before the hysteria died down, nineteen citizens of Salem were hanged in the incident.
In the intensely compelling courtroom scene, John Proctor, played by Larry Adams-Bowers, confronts his young servant Mary Warren, played by Josie Rundlett as Rev. Parris (Ed Dickerson), Deputy Governor Danforth (Steve Arnold), and Abigail Williams (Jaimie Tucker) look on.
For ACT I’s readers’ theatre version of the play, director Le Cox has condensed the script, eliminated some characters, and used narrative passages to transition the cuts.But the dramatic impact of this powerful script is certainly there and the story remains profoundly moving.
Playwright Arthur Miller was born in 1915.Although such plays as Death of a Salesman and The Crucible make him one of the literary giants of the twentieth century culture, he also earned a place in our twentieth century pop culture, as the third husband of actress Marilyn Monroe.
Reverend Samuel Parris: Ed Dickerson:
Abigail Williams: Jaimie Tucker
Ann Putnam: Linda Radcliffe
Thomas Putnam: Greg Walston
Mercy Lewis: Jessica Rundlett
Mary Warren: Josie Rundlett
John Proctor: Larry Adams-Bowers
Elizabeth Proctor: Le Cox
Rebecca Nurse: Beverly Adams-Bowers
Reverend John Hale: Bill Owens
Giles Corey: Ron Baldwin
Deputy Governor Danforth: Steve Arnold
Judge Hawthorne: Len Taylor*
*ACT I Debut